If there’s one ingredient that causes a lot of fuss and confusion, it’s silicones. You’ve probably heard it before: silicones are bad for your skin, bad for your hair, you should avoid them at all costs. Is this true? We asked beauty expert Keshia. You can read the answer in this Beauty Talk.
What are silicones?
Silicones are extracted from silicon, a chemical element also found in sand. They are odorless and colorless, very stable and resistant to oxygen, bacteria and light. In your personal care products, you recognize them by names like cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, dimethicone and phenyl trimethicone.
Why are they in your personal care products?
Silicone makes your product easy to spread. Say it yourself: if you can choose between a silky soft feeling or a crumbly or stiff cream, then your choice is surely quickly made. What’s more, they also ensure that the water in our skin evaporates less quickly, that wounds heal faster and scars look better.
In other words, silicones put a protective layer on the skin. And that’s exactly where all the fuss is coming from: “What, a silicone layer on my skin?! That’s going to smother my skin, seal it, clog my pores and make pimples worse!” But… Is it?
Do silicones aggravate acne?
Good news: no study or test has shown that silicones would worsen acne. On the contrary! Tests just show that silicones just often protect and support acne skin! (plottwist). You can compare silicone with a gauze: sweat and sebum can get out, but your skin is extra protected against harmful external influences that could cause skin problems.
Rather have a dry or damaged skin? Even then this extra support is more than welcome. Good to know: research shows that silicone in combination with glycerin can lighten sun-damaged skin with pigmentation spots. The molecular structure of silicones reveals this positive effect already: the molecules are large with lots of space between them and are therefore both porous and protective. They form a breathable barrier so they do not suffocate the skin, but do stop moisture loss. Many of these silicones are also volatiles. This means that they disappear as soon as they have deposited the active ingredients on the skin and therefore cannot clog pores.
I read a great comparison about this recently! You can think of silicones as a tea bag. As soon as you put the tea bag in hot water, all the herbs and their positive properties are ‘released’. Similarly, as soon as you apply your cream, silicones also ‘release’ the ingredients they are mixed with to do their work on and in your skin.
So silicones are not bad?
Silicones have many positive properties, that much is clear. Yet the substances can cause pimples if you don’t wash them off your skin at night (another plottwist!). Pores clog with sebum and dirt. Those are more easily left on your skin if you’ve used a product with silicones. But you probably already understand: the problem here is not the silicones in itself, but the fact that you do not cleanse your skin properly. You know what I am going to say now: cleaning your skin every day is very important!
Conclusion: silicones protect your skin, at least if you clean them properly! Don’t know how to best cleanse your face? Then read this Beauty Talk about double cleansing!